Which towbar should I choose for my car?

Installation of a tow bar
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Which towbar should I choose for my car?

When choosing the right hitch for your vehicle, it’s important to keep several things in mind. First of all, you will need to establish the weight you want to tow. There is indeed a difference in weight between a trailer and a caravan, the tension exerted on your hitch, and therefore on your car, will not be the same.

Do not forget to take into account the weight of the contents of your trailer or your caravan which can climb very quickly! Remember to check the recommended weight limit when choosing your towing hook to make sure it fits your needs.

There are 3 types of coupling

The classic ball-and-socket hitch.

It is most common for pulling heavy trailers or caravans. It is a towing hook fixed to a plate having 2 or 4 holes, thus allowing to have a spacer (connecting piece) of 25mm, so as to be able to fix additional elements to it. This type of hitch will allow you to tow a trailer or caravan while transporting bikes in the back of your vehicle (provided that you do not exceed the recommended weight limit).

The fixed hitch also allows you to adjust the towing height if necessary and install a bumper.
This type of hitch is probably the most flexible on the market , which explains its great popularity.

Removable hitch without tools

This type of hitch does not need to be permanently attached to your vehicle: if having a hitch ball permanently bothers you, you can opt for this type of hitch that you can use if necessary. It is also possible to leave it on your vehicle because it does not hinder access to your trunk.

With this hitch, attachments are available if you wish to transport bikes; however, you will not be able to tow and transport bikes simultaneously.

The swan neck

The latter is the least flexible: it cannot be combined with other elements or accessories . As with the detachable ball hitch, you cannot tow and transport bikes at the same time, but it is possible to do this separately.

This hitch is unlikely to trigger any of the reversing radars you may have on your vehicle.

Its price is slightly higher than the previous hitches, and you will not be able to fix it on your car if you have a bumper.

All of these hitches have advantages and disadvantages. You will not find large price differences between the three, so it is a question of determining what are your needs and selection criteria, in order to choose the hitch most suited to your needs.

Purchase and installation of a tow bar, what price?

Having a hitch installed on your vehicle is quite expensive, and can vary greatly depending on the type of hitch you want to mount (fixed, removable without tools, …), the type of spindle used, as well as the hourly rate charged by the garage. Thus, prices can range from simple to triple! This is why we advise you to compare prices beforehand on Tophitches so that you can choose the fairest offer according to your needs.

Have a hitch installed for your car

Installation of a tow bar

A hitch can be used in different situations, whether to tow a trailer or load equipment, thereby increasing the car’s loading capacity.

If your car does not yet have a tow ball, having it fitted by a mechanic does not present any particular difficulty.

A coupling head can be very useful, whether to tow a trailer, or to be able to attach other equipment.

Many car models are small and compact. There is therefore a real need to be able to increase the loading capacity of your car. For this, a hitch is a good solution.

If you install a trailer, remember to check your headlights, license plate, turn signals and your brake lights. If one of these elements is defective, you are liable to a fine.

Can you back up with your trailer or caravan

Backing up with a small trailer is more difficult than with a large one. Know that no one was able to back up correctly the first time with a trailer or caravan.

Find a suitable quiet area where you can train without disturbing anyone.

  • Start by aligning your trailer and your car stacked one behind the other
  • Turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction to where you want your trailer to go
  • Maintain a not too wide angle between your car and your trailer
  • Straighten the steering wheel as soon as your trailer is in the right direction and keep your car following
  • If it doesn’t work as expected, advance your car again and try again

Installation of a tow ball without control in the garage?

If your car is less than 8 years old, it is possible to fit a coupling head without necessarily going through an overhaul at the garage. However, the following conditions must be met:

  • The mounting of your towball must be carried out by a garage owner or a company authorized to carry out commercial operations involving cars and caravans.
  • The mechanic or the company must provide you with an invoice, paper or electronic, describing the operation carried out.
  • The coupling system must be fixed securely, it must not be possible to detach it.
  • Check the French rules in force!

If you want to have a removable coupling head fitted, it is necessary to have your car checked after installation.

If you want to install a hitch head yourself, you must be able to do so properly, and your car must then be checked in the garage before you drive while towing anything.

Removable or fixed coupling head?

Many new cars use a removable headstock. This preserves the look of the back of your car when you’re not towing anything, while giving you the added benefit of being able to tow something if you need to.

This can be a good solution if you have to tow trailers or the like very occasionally. However, watch out for rust on your detachable hitch which could prevent you from permanently removing the hitch head.

On the other hand, if you have a hitch more regularly, it is wise to install a fixed hitch.

7 or 13 pins?

Your coupling head must receive electricity in order to operate the headlights on the trailer or towed caravan as well as illuminate the license plate. Electricity is transmitted through an outlet. The socket has 7 or 13 pins , which must be connected to the car. So you have to decide when installing your new hitch ball which spindle to use. There are adapters that you can place directly on the plug, to go from 7 to 13 or vice versa, so it’s not really an irreversible choice

In general, the 7-pin sockets are more used for trailers or older caravans, while the 13-pin sockets are used more for recent caravans.

Accessories for coupling head

You can get a variety of accessories to use with your hitch system.

With a bike rack, you can take your bikes everywhere with you. You can also fix your strollers on a bicycle rack, and use special covers so that they do not get dirty during the journey.

How fast are you allowed to drive

In France, if your combined car plus hitch weight does not exceed 3,500 kg, the limits are the same as for a single car, ie 130 km / h on the highway, 90 km / h on the road and 50 km / h in built-up areas.

If the weight of your car and hitch combination exceeds 3,500 kg, the limits are 90 km / h on the highway, 80 km / h on the roads and always 50 km / h in town.

Please note, the regulations vary according to the country, and the speed limits indicated on the signs along the route always take precedence over the general rules. Finally, always drive with a speed adapted to the particular conditions in which you find yourself!

What maximum weight are you allowed to ride?

The rules defining the weight limits to respect when driving are rather complicated. There are, however, some basic rules that are easy to remember.

Your driver’s license indicates the maximum load you are allowed to drive. If you hold a B license, like most car drivers, you are limited to 3500 kg all inclusive. The total combined weights of your vehicle and your coupling system must therefore in principle not exceed 3500 kg.

You must pay attention to the total weight represented by your car, your ball or towing hook, plus the total weight towed. You may still exceed the maximum limit of 3500 kg, if you add up all the weights.

For more information on the specific rules, please consult the legislation in force.

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